Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor, remembers Freeman J. Dyson, the legendary physicist, writer, and fearless intellectual explorer who served on the Faculty in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for over 65 years. “As an eternal graduate student, a ‘rebel’ in his own words, Dyson was unafraid to question everything and everybody," writes Dijkgraaf in the PNAS. “… Perhaps he understood better than most that progress stems from disagreement more than agreement.”

The artwork by Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, depicts Russian nesting to capture the different scales of knowledge about the natural world, from the largest matryoshka doll that depicts our universe through the cosmic microwave background, the “first light” emitted soon after the Big Bang, to the smallest doll, the Planck scale, where spacetime becomes a quantum phenomenon.

"In a perverse way, the refutation of a great conjecture can be even better news than its success, since the failure makes clear that our imagined map of the mathematical world is seriously wrong. Defeat can be productive, the reverse of a Pyrrhic victory." In a column for Quanta Magazine, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, covers how conjectures are proven, what makes a particular one great, and the role conjecture plays in the advancement of mathematics.